Jammu and Kashmir’s key regional parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday reposed “full faith in the judiciary” and sounded hopeful about the restoration of the special constitutional position of J&K, as the Supreme Court hears the petitions challenging the reading down of Article 370 in 2019.
“We have full faith in this Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud. The least we expect is upholding the judgment on Article 370 by a seven-member Bench in the past. Article 370 is an article of faith and an emotional bond between the people of J&K and the Republic of India. This chord was broken in 2019, shaking the relationship permanently and eroding the trust between the two,” senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar told The Hindu.
Mr. Akhtar, a former Jammu and Kashmir Minister, said the ramifications of upholding the Centre’s move could be felt beyond geographical limits. “Restoring the bond between J&K and Republic of India, which are provisions of Article 370, will also act as a reconciliatory measure to normalise relationships with our neighbours too. This can happen at a time when there is a growing new realisation in Kashmir too,” Mr. Akhtar said.
He said the scrapping of Article 370 meant “unpeopling a State”, who would not count in any decision taken about them, and destroying the constitutional scheme of the Republic. “If upheld, it can be replicated anywhere by any government on the basis of a recommendation by its own appointed Governor. It will set off a chain reaction with potential threat to the hard-earned federal structure of India,” he added.
NC vice-president Omar Abdullah, who personally attended the hearing, said, “All eyes of people of J&K are on the SC. We will plead for justice. We are hopeful of getting justice. Leave aside political injustices, people of J&K faced violation of their constitutional rights [on August 5, 2019]. The hearing has provided us a chance to represent the sentiments of people of J&K before the SC.”
Meanwhile, CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said the proposed J&K Reorganisation Amendment ( 2023 ) Bill, allowing reservation of seats for Kashmiri Pandits and migrants from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was being introduced in the Parliament “at a time when the SC has begun hearing a clutch of petitions filed by the CPI(M) and other petitioners, challenging the J&K Reorganisation Act , 2019 itself”.
“The Central government should have waited for the Supreme Court’s final verdict before proposing an amendment Bill,” he said.